Because boasting about one’s accomplishments ought to be less of a taboo than it is in our culture:
Year to date, I’ve written 106,000 words, give or take a few hundred. Are they all going to see the light of day this year? No. No, they are not. Many of them either have or will, and the rest are seeds planted, waiting to bloom in the coming year. My initial aim for maintaining a writing blog when I started The Saturated Page was both to talk about my work (and to talk in general about books, stories, writing – all great things!) but also to have a tool to help me figure out my strengths and (more to the point) my weaknesses as a writer, to help me hone my craft, and to help me produce more work. I have written fiction since I could hold a pen. I was the girl in your English class whose creative stories were read aloud. I was the one who received word limits on my writing assignments. All of the bags and purses I’ve ever owned have had to meet two very important criteria: will both a book and a notebook (the paper kind) fit easily into the bag? Being a writer has pretty much the one part of my identity that I’ve never doubted, never thought of setting down, never really had to think much about it at all. I’ve had one period in my life when I wasn’t working on some sort of fiction, even if I wasn’t writing all the time – after I finished high school, I stopped writing, and I didn’t pen another story for two years. (This was a mistake. Writing, which had been as easy as breathing, was harder to pick back up then I thought it would be. Not my love for doing it, but getting myself out of my own way while writing.) There were reasons – transitioning from going to school to working full time, the death of my father, etc., – but it was still an experience I wish I could have skipped. (‘Allo, hindsight!) I’ve never been very focused on the production parts of writing. I want to write, and then I want to write some more. I’m happy to edit and polish (er, in theory. Maybe don’t talk to me much when I’m in the thick of it, though) Formatting, publishing, and, worse, talking about material that I last really worked on weeks or months or years ago? Not so much. I’ve gotten better at it, but it always feels a bit false. I love my stories, but to use a current example, even Spirit Touched, which goes live to the subscription group in December, and is the most recently completed work is old news, as far as story plotting and planning. The NaNo project is the one that’s occupying my waking moments. It’s the tea that’s steeping inside the teapot that is my head. (I’m terrified of this project, but I’m also excited and cannot wait to get my teeth into it!)
Up until the last three years, I haven’t been very serious about getting my work out there. Oh, I’ve had stories published, and I’ve written some books, but while I’ve been serious about telling stories, my approach has been amateurish. I didn’t pay much attention to what I was producing in a given year, I had no idea what my numbers were, what I was capable of, or even what approach to writing worked best for me. I wrote stories as I felt inspired to, and I had loads (I still have loads) of potential story ideas waiting for me to get the time to write them, but I was very la la la about getting my ass into the chair and writing. I didn’t set goals – not real, tangible, obtainable goals. In 2009 I wrote the bulk of what would eventually become The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tale, and the year after that I barely broke 20k words. Between that, the back-log of stories waiting to be told and the realization that that I would die with more stories waiting for me to write them than I could ever write in a single lifetime (even if I wrote nonstop for the rest of my life, unless I put blinders on and stopped interacting with the world, because story snippets come from every which where) I decided enough was enough. My first real, obtainable goal was formulated: I wanted to become more prolific than I’d been prior to that point, and I wanted to see how I ticked, as a writer. I also, bigger picture goal, wanted to become one of those writers who keeps writing, even when life explodes.
I made it out of 2012 with 80k under my belt, which was my first victory along that road. 2012 saw me bury my grandmother, grandfather, and one of our cats. (2012 is the year that can still, still go fuck itself.) 2013 closed with my reached 100k, which was the most I’d written in any one given year since I’d written The Fosterling in 2001. Second victory! Yes, I reached that much in part due to participating in NaNo, but so what? Only part of that word count felt like work, like striving, and that was an awesome, awesome feeling.
It’s October 2014 as I write this. I’ve tallied my writing for the year so far, and I’ve included essays, articles, and some of the meatier blog posts (because the consensus says blog posting counts towards word counts!), and rounding down a dozen hundred words or so, I’m at 106k. If I need to placate my fiction-writer-identity, I can point out that more than half of that is original fiction. With the NaNo project firmed up (Poseidon: a Narrative, and yes, I’m going to talk about this more) the plan is to hit another 50k during November. And then there’s December, still.
2014 has already been a huge writing victory year for me. I am paying a bill, regularly, by my writing, and I have been since July. This is huge for me, and it’s helped me start taking myself more seriously as a writer. Having hit over 100k words (and it’s not even the end of the year yet) is a big deal, too, and largely because little of that has actually felt like work. I’m working full time. I’ve had dental surgery. For a month and more I was working more than full time. There has been ridiculous day job related stress. My dog was diagnosed with heart failure. Life hasn’t stopped just so I could write, and yet I’ve written more this year than I ever have – and there’s still two months to go. And, I’ve managed to get regular knitting back into my life, too. (I’ve made socks. THREE of them!)
So, yeah. Gonna toot my horn a bit, and be pleased with myself. I dun good.